By Rick Seamann, Centris vice president of indirect lending
Everyone wants the best deal when shopping for a car and most people think that the year-end clearance sales are hands down the best time to get that deal. They definitely can be, but there are a few things to keep in mind.
- The selection isn’t always the best. If there is a particular color, trim package or even model you have your heart set on, it may not be available. Therefore, if saving a few extra dollars isn’t worth getting the exact vehicle you want, then you may want to consider buying earlier in the year when the selection is better.
- Be aware of lot rot. Keep in mind that many of these vehicles have been on the lot for several months, and vehicles that are not started and drove regularly can get lot rot. Lot rot can cause problems with the car the entire time you own it. Also, these cars have been on many test drives and can have minor lot damage like door dings, small scratches, etc. Be careful to inspect these clearance vehicles carefully to insure they are in new car condition because you may end up having to put your savings back into the vehicle to make it look new again.
- Salesmen are most aggressive at month-end. New car manufacturers set goals with car dealers, and if salesmen are short of these goals it can cost the owner of the dealership thousands of dollars. If a salesman has to lose $1,000 to $1,500 to make the dealership $30,000 plus in back-end money for reaching the monthly goal, the salesman does whatever it takes to make the sale benefiting the car buyer.
- Shop at the end of the night. If a dealership closes at 8 p.m. for the night and all the salesman has to do is agree to numbers (price, payment and/or terms), he/she will get right to the point. If he/she can make the deal work, he/she will. No one is interested in staying at the dealership after hours to negotiate a few hundred dollars.
- Shop during the week. Weekends are always busier than week days, so when negotiating a car deal, go in during the week. You may be the dealership’s only opportunity to sell a car that day. No dealership wants to go blank for the day so selling a car to the only prospect the dealer has makes them sharpen their pencil. Also, you’ll have the sales team’s full attention because there aren’t droves of costumers driving through the lot.
Using these tactics while also researching the vehicle and financing/pre-approval options online before going to the dealership will keep the power in your hands. Knowledge is power when it comes to buying your next vehicle.